USOC: Sounders edge Fire to claim 3rd straight crown
SEATTLE – Fredy Montero converted a rebound from close range and Osvaldo Alonso showed some individual brilliance as the Seattle Sounders claimed their third consecutive US Open Cup trophy with a 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire on Tuesday night at CenturyLink Field.
With the victory, Seattle became just the third team overall and the first since 1969 to claim three consecutive US Open Cups. Chicago failed in their bid to join Bethlehem Steel and Maccabi Los Angeles as the competition’s only five-time winners.
After an initial save by Sean Johnson, Montero punched in the rebound in the 77th minute for the first goal of a tightly contested match. With the goal, Montero continued his stellar form across all competitions, accounting for five goals in Seattle’s last three competitions.
Dominic Oduro had the Fire’s best chance to equalize as the clock struck 90, but he was ruled offsides after heading a ball that Seattle 'keeper Kasey Keller saved.
Five minutes into stoppage time, Alonso sealed the victory with a beautiful second for Seattle, weaving through the Fire defense in the game’s dying seconds before tucking it away.
Despite the energy provided by the record Open Cup crowd of 35,613, the first half did not yield any goals. Talk of the speed of Chicago's Patrick Nyarko and Oduro dominated the lead-up, but it was the pace of Seattle forward Mike Fucito that caused problems in the first half.
Fucito claimed Seattle’s first scoring chance, squirting free in the penalty area for a shot on goal that was kicked away by Fire goalkeeper Johnson in the eighth minute. In the 25th, he forced a stressful situation between Johnson and surprise starter Josip Mikulic that was eventually cleared by Chicago.
Fucito’s back-heeled pass in the 44th was nearly converted by Álvaro Fernández, but Johnson again dove to make the save.
Seattle’s best chance of the half rang the near post, with Montero just barely missing in first-half stoppage time.
Chicago’s best scoring chance in the first half came off the foot of Marco Pappa, with a long-range effort catching a dangerous deflection before Keller intervened. The Guatemalan midfielder claimed all five of Chicago’s shots in the first half.
Erik Friberg replaced Fernández at halftime after the Uruguayan suffered what was termed as a “head injury.”
The match continued in the same manner as the first half – plenty of shots but no goals. Fucito saw his flick past Johnson agonizingly bounce off the far post and away in the 53rd minute.
Chicago still struggled to create opportunities and saw Mikulic leave the game in the 61st minute, replaced by Jalil Anibaba.
Seattle continued to press as the match stayed scoreless into the latter stages of the second half until Montero’s breakthrough. Jeff Parke started the play with a header on goal from a corner kick, with Johnson sprawling to make the save. However, the Fire goalkeeper was helpless to prevent the rebound from finding the net.
Fire coach Frank Klopas, who won the 1998 Open Cup for Chicago with a dramatic overtime winner, substituted Diego Chaves into the match in the 80th minute and Sebastián Grazzini in the 84th in an attempt to equalize. The visitors nearly did, with Oduro getting free from just a few yards out to force a miraculous save from Keller – before he was deemed offside.
Alonso’s goal five minutes into stoppage time came just seconds before the final whistle.
SEA – Freddy Montero 79th
SEA – Osvaldo Alonso 96+
CHI – Patrick Nyarko (caution) 27th
SEA – Freddy Montero (caution) 90th
CHI – Jalil Anibaba (caution) 90th
SEA – Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 90th
Chicago Fire -- Sean Johnson, Gonzalo Segares, Cory Gibbs, Josip Mikulic (Jalil Anibaba 61), Dan Gargan (Sebastian Grazzini 85), Marco Pappa, Pavel Pardo, Logan Pause, Daniel Paladini (Diego Chaves 80), Dominic Oduro, Patrick Nyarko.
Substitutes Not Used: Orr Barouch, Baggio Husidic, Michael Videira, Jon Conway.
Seattle Sounders -- Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Alvaro Fernandez (Erik Friberg 46), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Lamar Neagle, Mike Fucito (Roger Levesque 89), Fredy Montero.
Substitutes Not Used: Nate Jaqua, Sammy Ochoa, Zach Scott, Tyson Wahl, Josh Ford.
Referee: Alex Prus
Referee's Assistants: Steven Taylor; Eric Boria
4th Official: Josh Wilkens
Time of Game: 1:54
Weather: Rain and 58 degrees